With the launch of her debut novel, ‘Trust In You,’ I am really excited to invite Julia Firlotte to my blog, to talk about her author’s journey.
Julia is a local writer who I met last summer, at the Gribble Inn, Oving, West Sussex. As budding authors, we had a good chat about books and writing before she told me about her up-and-coming first novel, a summer romance set in the US.
So a very warm welcome to you, Julia and I’m intrigued to discover more about your writing process…
“Novels take their readers on a journey, with characters leading the adventure and charging ahead (or limping slowly forward in some cases). I’ve been surprised though of the journey the writing process itself has allowed me to make as a new author, it’s not just been my characters on a path of enlightenment.”
So did you plot out your story or was it character driven?
“I’m very much an inspirational writer rather than a planner. I come up easily with scenes and can fabricate a whole dialogue between characters and write it down without ever knowing where my stories are headed. Developing characters that fit with what the modern reader wants and structuring it into a cohesive storyline, that’s more of a challenge for me (and why I have several unfinished books).
As with learning any new skill, new writers need to learn their craft, but as I’m discovering, this also means learning their target audience’s preferences too. I spoke recently to a highly experienced novelist and she told me that she never puts pen to paper without knowing exactly who her characters are and what is going to happen. This approach avoids wasting months rewriting and is clearly of commercial benefit, but for me I admit I struggle with this technique.
Hmm, that is good advice. You really need to know your characters before the novel can take shape. What other elements are important to you?
“My debut novel ‘Trust In You’ is a romantic suspense and like crime and thriller writers, I like my romance to have angst and passion, not be all light-hearted dinners and roses. Trust In You started as a bully romance over a land dispute, but after listening to my characters and beta readers, by the end of the writing process the original plot wasn’t even in the book anymore. It’s a love story through and through and I think a stronger piece of writing because of it, now with a strong crime and intrigue element.”
Ooh, crime and romance… I am really intrigued now, tell us more.
“Developing characters that are believable is widely recognised as being the most important aspect of writing any piece of fiction. Whether a protagonists or antagonist is a person or a theme, likeable or someone the reader will just love to hate, they have to be real. Some useful tools I’ve discovered in my writing journey to help develop my characters are mood thesauruses and personality typing such as Myers and Briggs.
Also key is the ability to step back from the novel after leaving it to rest between drafts and asking ‘would my character really behave like this’ and more importantly ‘will my readers want to read this?’ Having a clear audience in mind during the whole process seems obvious, but is easy to overlook. I recently spent nine months on a first draft, only to have feedback that the writing is great (descriptive, insightful and well-paced etc), but what I’d actually written, meaning the entire plot and the fundamental character traits was unappealing and distasteful. Oh dear, I’d clearly missed the mark by a mile of what I had been hoping to achieve.”
Quite a tough learning curve then but you do need to develop a thick skin as a writer.
“Although disheartening, I’m really grateful for these honest criticisms as without them truly appealing stories might never be written. My author journey is teaching me more about society and my readership than I’d ever expected to learn and making me a stronger and more informed person in the process.”
Thanks for sharing this, Julia, it’s been a most enlightening article. Now for those of you who are dying to get your hands on her book, here are the essential links:
For more information on Julia’s novels, please visit her website www.juliafirlotteauthor.com and subscribe to her mailing list where you will also receive the first three chapters free.
Trust In You
A first love summer romance full of intrigue, lust and lies.
From the moment she met him, Ella Peterson had questions. As always, though, she’s too shy to ask.
Older and sexy as hell, mysterious Adam Brook soon sweeps sheltered Ella off her feet; but is he as perfect as he appears to be, or is there more to him than he’s telling her?
Ella’s world has already turned upside down after moving from England to rural Kansas. She and her sisters were hoping for a more secure future, but instead find that life can be tough when jobs are scarce and the stakes often higher than anticipated.
When events spiral out of Ella’s control, she learns the person she needs to rely on most is herself and her instincts on who to trust in the future.
It’s just that her instincts are screaming at her to trust Adam; it’s what he tells her that makes that a problem.
This is the first book in the Falling for You series.
Happy Easter everyone and what better way to survive lockdown than to relax with a good book?